The fisherman at the frontline of Western Australia’s controversial shark kill policy says he has been left alone by activists who had threatened to sabotage the operation.
As more drumlines continue to be placed in the waters off the WA coast, the south-west contractor said he had been largely ignored since the initial furore over his lucrative contract last month.
More than 30 sharks are thought to have been caught on drum lines in West Australian waters, with the government confirming some were being cannibalised by larger sharks.
Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said at least 36 sharks had been caught since the drum lines were set up, 32 of which were undersize. The state government has not officially revealed the number or type of sharks being caught.
“We don’t know how many of these undersized sharks are dying once they are released,” Ms Siewert said.
“Reports of mauling by other sharks, along with the damage done by the hook means that animals could be seriously harmed.”
A spokesman for the WA Department of Premier and Cabinet confirmed both the fishing contractor in the South West and the Fisheries crews had reported “minor evidence” of bites on sharks caught on the lines, which were probably from other sharks.
But the operator, who has asked not to be named, says he has seen very little direct opposition to his work on the water.
“We have had very little issues with activism, and I am very grateful for that,” the fisherman told Fairfax radio.
Senator Siewert was expected introduce a motion into the Senate calling on federal environment minister Greg Hunt to revoke the exemption he granted so the protected great white shark could be killed.
But as the political wrangling continued, so did the catch, with a four-metre Tiger Shark caught and shot near Bunker Bay on Monday.
The fisherman insists the policy was providing protection.
“We really feel we provide a bit of coverage when we fish in front of Gracetown and Yallingup, it feels you are putting a line of defence in,” the fisherman said.
The state government has been be forced to use its own Fisheries Department officers in Perth after commercial operators pulled out following threats from activists.
On Tuesday, Surf Lifesaving WA warned that a 2.79m tiger shark had been caught and released 1.4km off-shore at the popular Mullaloo beach.
Bull, tiger and great white sharks longer than three metres that are caught within one kilometre of parts of the WA coast are being shot dead and discarded at sea.
The fisherman denied that practice would attract even more sharks close to shore.
“Every time a fishing boat sails something has to die, a fishing boat is a floating abattoir, and it just has to be that way to get protein from the sea.”